The outrage on social media is not enough. We need real action. There has been none. The stuttering silence of the ruling BJP has woken us all up from our sleep. Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, previously unknown on the map of India has now become central to rape conversations across the country. A young Dalit woman raped by two men and was sent back home in a critical condition in an auto-rickshaw. This incident has come to light just days after the news about gangrape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by four upper-caste men in Hathsar, also in UP.
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A rape happens every 15 minutes in our country, however, it seldom makes it to the headlines. In some cases, we read about them in newspapers and go back to leading our daily lives. The problem of rape in India is so deep-rooted that we often forget it exists. It’s like that crack on our walls at home which we know exists, but forget to acknowledge. It’s taken to be “normal” as something which exists so deeply in society that it often goes ignored.
Is rape normalised in Indian society and have we stopped trying to make a change? During the Nirbhaya rape case which moved the entire country, there were protests and vigils. But how much has changed since then? There needs to be a larger movement in India to eliminate rape.
As I sat in the car with my friends discussing the rape culture in India and the recent Balrampur rape case, they rolled eyes at me. I was the party pooper. They wanted me to stop thinking about sad things which killed my own mood. None of them would ever go for a protest if they had the opportunity to, even my female friends would not attend a protest against rape. They simply read about it in the newspaper now and have learned to move on.
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Many of my friends still go back home to 9 AM curfew calls, forced cooking sessions with their mothers, no boyfriend talks at home and morally censored clothing choices. However, they still don’t understand how one rape in the country impacts their own lives. They still won’t protest at 9 AM just to go back home to a curfewed deadline at 9 PM.
Most of India has not just normalised rape culture but is in deep denial. We do not know how rape is impacting society and our own families. We live in ignorance of the impact India’s rape culture has had on our own lives. The Balrampur and Hathras gangrape cases opened up many wounds which the Nirbhaya rape case inflicted on us. In both cases, the girls raped were from the Dalit community. Society’s mindset reflects in both cases where men are taught to believe that Dalits are inferior to them. This makes them think that it is okay to rape a Dalit girl because she is less human than them.
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To solve India’s rape problem, we need to first tackle issues of inequality and educate people to understand that everyone is equally human. The Hathras and Balrampur rape cases have shook the entire country. We are yet to realise that rape is not okay in India. We are yet to understand that these rape cases are not one-off situations. We need to understand that while we watch television for half an hour at home, two rape cases may have happened in that duration. While children study in schools for seven hours, 14 rape cases may have occured in the country. We need to stop this from happening. We need to raise our voices.
This is a wake-up call for India, which has been ringing since really long but has gone unanswered. We need to wake up now. India deserves better.
Image Credit: PTI
Vidhi Bubna is a contributor with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.